Navy Region Hawaii names 2012 Sailors of the Year

(Left) Senior Sailor of the Year EM1 Tanner Baku called his time at Pearl Harbor “a once in a lifetime opportunity.” (Center) Bluejacket of the Year IT3 Carmen Hernandez looks forward to the regional competition. (Right) RP2 Brian Schoffstall is a two-time Junior Sailor of the Year honoree.

Story and photos by Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

The selectees for the Navy Region Hawaii Sailor of the Year for fiscal year 2012 were recently announced. Engineman 1st Class Tanner Baku was named Senior Sailor of the Year, Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Brian Schoffstall was named Junior Sailor of the Year, and Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Carmen Hernandez was named Bluejacket of the Year.

Hernandez, assigned to Commander Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH) operations, joined the Navy in June 2010 and has been stationed here since January 2011. A Los Angeles native, she enlisted for a change of pace. While Hernandez is happy to be named Navy Region Hawaii Bluejacket of the Year, she is ambitious and already looking ahead.

“I feel some anxiety because I still have to do the regionals,” she said. “That would feel like even more of an accomplishment.”

This is the second year in a row that Schoffstall has been named Sailor of the Year at Navy Region Hawaii.

“I was a little surprised,” he said. “I’m separating in May 2013 to go into the Navy Reserves.”

Schoffstall works at the Navy Region Hawaii chap-lain’s office. His Navy career path was an unusual one.

“I was working a dead-end job in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I met the chief of chaplains of the United States Navy, a two-star admiral. He sort of recruited me.”

In addition to the quality of his work, Schoffstall believes his volunteer work helped him to be named Sailor of the Year two years in a row.

“I volunteer at the USO monthly,” he said. “I also volunteer at Pearl City Elementary with tutoring and beautification projects and served as coordinator for the Feds Feed Families program.”

Baku is assigned to the barge crew at CNRH. He said he was shocked to be named a Sailor of the Year.

“I’m just doing what I think of as normal duty,” he said.

The Emmett, Idaho native always knew he wanted to serve his country, and the Navy was a natural choice.

“My grandfather was a naval veteran who served during the Korean War,” he said. “He was an engineer also and did exactly what I do.”

Baku’s Hawaii tour of duty ends this December.

“Serving at Pearl Harbor has been a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.

An awards ceremony honoring the Sailors of the Year is planned, though no final date or location has been determined. In the meantime, Baku, Schoffstall and Hernandez can take pride in their rare accomplishments.

“Being selected as the command’s Sailor of the Year is one of the highest honors a Sailor can receive during their tour of duty,” said Command Master Chief Marc Sibal.

“It represents hard work, professionalism and sacrifice. Only the best of the best get to earn the title Sailor of the Year, and every one of these outstanding Sailors deserve this recognition,” he said.

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